Gun Debate Breaks Out at UCOSA Meeting

Senator Colten Kidd, sophomore, speaks to those at the Jan. 29 UCOSA Congress meeting about guns on cam- pus. (Janessa Egler/The Vista)

The University of Central Oklahoma Student Association passed a resolution reaffirming their commitment to the university’s stance on campus gun control, despite a challenge from one senator over concerns of how representative the resolution was of the student body.

Authored by Senate Chairman Remington Dean and Senator Tate Atkinson, the resolution CR18-202 was the latest in a series of annual statements from UCOSA that supports UCO’s continued compliance with state laws prohibiting guns on university campuses.

“The official opinion of the UCO Student Congress remains the same as previous declarations – that the UCO Student Body opposes any modification to state law that would effectively allow guns on campus at the University of Central Oklahoma for any and all individuals outside of law enforcement personnel,” the resolution said.

While UCOSA’s resolutions on gun control are typically passed unanimously and without debate, this year concerns were raised by Senator Colton Kidd over whether or not the student body was polled prior to the resolution being brought to the senate floor.

Atkinson admitted that the current resolution was authored and brought to the senate without polling the UCO student body, but said that the polling had been conducted previously.

“This is, from what I understand, a statement that we have passed several times over the years, so, I assume that in previous times it has been surveyed,” Atkinson said.

Prior to the vote on the resolution, Kidd called for a debate to be held on the senate floor to expand on his concerns. Kidd was provided three minutes, during which he emphasized the senate’s role as a representative legislative body.

“We have a job and duty to represent not just the majority voice on campus, but the whole student body,” Kidd said. “Therefore, I am representing a minority on campus. A minority that, although quiet, is still a minority.”

He went on to discuss concerns he had previously heard raised that minors would be allowed to possess firearms on campus were guns permitted, arguing that minors are already prohibited from possessing guns under state law.

“Even if the state passed legislation that allowed guns on campus, it would not be open to any and all individuals unless additional state legislation was passed that allowed minors and other non-licensed individuals to carry on campus,” Kidd said.

Atkinson argued that with current campus gun policies permitting licensed gun carriers to carry on campus with written permission of UCO President Don Betz, UCOSA’s statement merely reaffirmed the campus’ compliance with state law in preventing unlicensed individuals from bringing guns on campus.

Under current Oklahoma state laws, a licensed gun owner can carry a weapon on campus only with the written consent of the college president. The only exception to this law are currently employed city, state or federal law enforcement officers.

“Right now, we are just supporting our previous decisions based on what has happened in the past,” Atkinson said.

Despite the debate, the resolution passed with only a single “nay” vote cast by Kidd against the measure.

Another resolution, CR18-201, was also passed unanimously during the meeting, approving the appointment of incoming senators Nicole Bergstrasser, Kennedi Breuklander, Jodran Broiles, Lance Cooter and Austin Loard.

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